Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Pain 100%: This sauce will fuck you up!

Sometimes sauce don't feel like it should. You make it hurt so good!

I suppose the dumbest thing you could think about Original Juan's Pain 100% sauce is that it's just a name.

That's what I thought at first. After all, they sell it at Marks & Spencer, the same place Margaret Thatcher used to buy her underwear.

There's nothing "hot" about that.

But 100% Pain is not just a name. It's not a gimmick. It's not misplaced bravado.

It's a warning.

Used carelessly, this sauce will fuck you up.

The thing that gives this sauce bragging rights is that habaneros are the first ingredient listed, indicating this is literally a sauce of habanero chiles, rather than a tomato sauce with a chile or two to give it a "kick".

It's actually the habanero flavour that "got" me. Habaneros aren't easy to come by in Britain. Often I have to substitute Scotch Bonnets, which aren't quite the same.

So when I first tasted this sauce, I kept adding more and more. I just couldn't get enough of that real habanero flavour.

I estimate I used two and half to three tablespoons of sauce on two modest-sized fish cakes.

Obviously my mouth was on fire, but that didn't bother me because, unrepentant chilehead that I am, I actually like the burn.

Also, I've made sauces and relishes out of naga chiles, which are hotter than habaneros. I was like "No probs, I got this!"

And anyway, habaneros contain dihydrocapsaicin, which is intense but short-lived. A few minutes later I was fine. Or so I thought...

Later that evening I began to feel a strange sensation in my stomach. It started as an uncomfortable churning, but quickly escalated to severe pain.

I sent my three-year-old upstairs to get help from my wife, but being a toddler, she didn't quite get the message across.

So I literally crawled up the stairs, dripping with sweat, and heaved myself into the living room before collapsing on the floor.

I was seriously considering calling NHS 24, but I stuck to my two-pronged chile mantra: "The pain is only temporary" followed by "You will not be permanently damaged".

"What if he doesn't survive? He's worth a lot to me!"

That, combined with some Gaviscon and two capsules of paracetamol (Tylenol to you Americans) and I was able to ride out the storm.

Which taught me a valuable lesson: never use more than a teaspoon of this sauce at a time.

I've generally been able to stick to this rule. My teaspoons are rather generous, though. Because I never learn.

My rocky introduction to 100% Pain aside, let me tell you why I like this sauce:

  • Real habanero flavour - apart from being one of the hottest chiles in the world, habaneros have a distinctly sweet and fruity flavour, which is woefully addictive (and why I just can't leave this sauce alone)

  • It comes by its heat "honestly" - by which I mean it's not beefed up with artificial capsaicin extracts like some other "extreme hot sauces" are. It's hella hot because it's made from hella habaneros, and habaneros are hella fucking hot.

  • It "does what it says on the tin" - (as we say in Britain). It says 100% Pain, and that's what you get. Although I initially thought the name would be a bluff, as a chilehead I am comforted that the sauce really is that hot

Now, being MexiGeek, one question I have to address is: is there anything particularly "Mexican" about this sauce?

Habaneros, of course, are the distinctive chile of Yucatecan cuisine, but most of the Yucatecan recipes I've made call for one or two habaneros.

As opposed to 15 or 20.

When making a nice Mayan chiltomate sauce, for instance, a couple habs is more than enough.

However, I did find a very similar-sounding recipe in one of Diana Kennedy's books, which calls for 12-15 habaneros, a bit of seasoning (Mexican oregano, etc), and just enough vinegar to dilute the sauce to a pourable consistency.

That sounds about right. So there is a real Mexican analogue to this sauce.

Interestingly, Diana says more than once that this sauce should be used sparingly and that "a little goes a very long way".

As a final note, I recently discovered the Smoking Tongue blog, which chronicles one man's attempt to drink a bottle of hot sauce every day.

I notice that 100% Pain is not one of the sauces.

I don't even want to think about what would happen if you tried to down a whole bottle of this sauce in one sitting.

I'm sure hallucinations would be on the agenda.

I used two types of chile sauce on this sandwich, because I never learn anything.